Antarctic seal photo wins top prize

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The winners of a new wildlife photography competition have been announced, with a drone image of seals on an ice floe earning the top prize.

An aerial view of a number of seals resting on top of an ice float in the AntarcticImage source, Nature TTL / Florian Ledoux

French photographer Florian Ledoux took the winning photo, entitled Above the Crabeater Seals, in Antarctica.

"For me, it is very important to show the state of the Arctic and Antarctic regions," he said.

"It is also important that anyone inspired by this style of drone image understands the importance of wildlife, and being ethical in your approach.

"Ensure that your drone does not spook animals or disturb them, and always conduct yourself within accordance of local regulations."

Mr Ledoux beat 7,000 other entries from 117 different countries to win Nature TTL Photographer of the Year 2020.

Here are other category winners and runners-up in the competition, with descriptions by the photographers.

Landscape category winner: Shadow Game, by Marek Biegalski, taken in Italy

Image source, Nature TTL / Marek Biegalski

"An aerial image taken in Tuscany in autumn light. A flock of sheep was hiding in the shade from the sun under the shadow of a tree."

Macro category winner: Chinese Painting, by Minghui Yuan, taken in China

Image source, Nature TTL / Minghui Yuan

"I was wearing waterproof overalls in the stream of Dabie Mountain, waiting to observe this Matrona basilaris (damselfly).

"Matrona basilaris is the king of the stream here, there is a male every three metres.

"Against the background of the sky, I discovered the connection between the lines of the grass and the subject. Nature itself is a simple painting."

Youth category: Phoenix, by Saptarshi Gayen, taken in India

Image source, Nature TTL / Saptarshi Gayen

"For the last four to five years I have seen that at the end of every winter, farmers burn the grass and reeds to clean the land for upcoming crops.

"When the fire spreads across the land, small insects start coming out. Then the brave Black Drongo starts capitalising on such a moment, by eating them and flying above the live fire."

People's Choice Award: I'm not going easy, by Robert Ferguson, taken in Singapore

Image source, Nature TTL / Robert Ferguson

"This is the great white pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus), struggling with a non-native fish. These wonderful birds are free to roam, but have established a large colony on one of the artificial islands in the Old Jurong Park in Singapore.

"I noticed one particular bird had caught one of the big fish from the pond. I watched as the bird swam in circles, dipping its bill, taking water, then raising its beak to attempt to swallow its large prey.

"But every time the fish extended its sharp spines on its fins - you can see it hooked on the beak here - it lodged itself firmly.

"This went on for over 20 minutes, with no sign of either party tiring. I was fascinated to see the intricate veins in the bird's throat pouch, as the overcast day backlit the thin skin, and I had to move and crouch low to the ground to get the shot."

Wildlife category, highly commended: Badger Blues, by Dave Hudson, taken in the UK

Image source, Nature TTL / Dave Hudson

"I had been putting in the hours watching a number of setts in the area, but decided to focus on this particular one, due to the abundance of bluebells.

"After a good couple of hours, I began to hear movement.

"An adult badger came towards me first, sniffing the air as they often do. It drifted out of shot and into the bluebells, but much to my delight behind it was a cub. He seemed comfortable enough, so I clicked the shutter and got a couple of shots."

Wildlife category, highly commended: Sleeping the fall off, by Terje Kolaas, taken in Norway

Image source, Nature TTL / Terje Kolaas

"A collared dove in a garden in Norway takes a break from feeding during a heavy snowfall. A remote street light in the background creates a halo around the bird."

Wildlife category, highly commended: Breathing, by Bence Mate, taken in Romania

Image source, Nature TTL / Bence Mate

"A brown bear growls a warning of its presence to an interloper, his breath vanishing slowly in the windless forest."

Landscape category, runner-up: Viking Rainbows, by Alessandro Cantarell, taken in Iceland

Image source, Nature TTL / Alessandro Cantarell

"I have found myself in Iceland dozens of times, and have been lucky enough to witness incredible conditions on the Vestrahorn mountain.

"Seeing such a powerful sunrise on the right was already magical, and the very intense rain made things difficult for me but it gave me a great gift - a double rainbow on the left that perfectly compensated the strong light on the right."

Landscape category, highly commended: Flower Power, by Brandon Yoshizawa, taken in USA

Image source, Nature TTL / Brandon Yoshizawa

"An incredible display of man and nature. The exhaust plume of a SpaceX rocket is lit by the low sun at twilight.

"The plume takes on the shape of a flower with the trail almost looking like a broken stem, as it shoots out from behind the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains."

Landscape category, highly commended: Coexistence, by Dipanjan Pal, taken in Iceland

Image source, Nature TTL / Dipanjan Pal

"While flying my drone close to a mountain, I suddenly noticed this beautiful landscape with the blue river perfectly highlighted against the black sand."

Landscape category, highly commended: Valley of the Scheldt, by Bart Heirweg, taken in Belgium

Image source, Nature TTL / Bart Heirweg

"In early autumn the Valley of the Scheldt is often filled with a thick layer of fog on clear and windless mornings.

"When the sun starts to rise the fog slowly disappears, revealing the landscape underneath."

Macro category, runner-up: Mating red-eyed damselflies, by Robert Page, taken in the UK

Image source, Nature TTL / Robert Page

"I have observed and photographed damselflies on the ponds in my local park in London for years."

Macro category, highly commended: Nothing here but this tree, by Caitlin Henderson, taken in Australia

Image source, Nature TTL / Caitlin Henderson

"The lichen huntsman (Pandercetes gracilis) is an incredible species of tree-dwelling spider from Australia's tropical north. Its astounding camouflage enables it to blend perfectly with tree bark and lichens, and it's nearly impossible to spot by day.

"At night, I went searching for these spiders with a torch, using their reflective eye-shine to discover their hiding places in plain sight."

Under-16 category, highly commended: Fox, by Matej Borjancic, taken in Slovenia

Image source, Nature TTL / Matej Borjancic

"My grandfather took me on a tour of the quarry to see if there were any animals there.

"We were lucky; I photographed a young fox as she looked out of her hiding place."

All photos courtesy Nature TTL.